The light of reason and the law appears to have totally vanished from our sight as President B. S. Aquino 3rd insists on trying to qualify Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, despite her incurable citizenship and residence defects. Some form of lower intellectual life would like to rescue PNoy and Ms. Poe from their predicament by asking her to lower her sights to the vice-presidency, for which she is neither qualified. At the same time, the Commission on Elections seems determined to put the foreign marketing firm Smartmatic and its voting machine in charge of the next elections, despite its abominable performance in the 2010 and 2013 elections, and its most recent disclosure to the British House of Commons that it is a 100-percent foreign subsidiary with no legal authority to do business in the Philippines.
Grace Poe may be politically more seductive than any other presidential aspirant, as Sen. Francis Escudero will be probably be only too happy to affirm, but not being a natural-born Filipino and lacking the 10-year residence immediately preceding the May 2016 election, she is not qualified to run for President, Vice-President, or even a seat in Congress. By behaving as though the natural-born citizenship and the 10-year residence prior to the election, as required of presidential candidates, did not exist, Aquino is doing his best to convince everyone that the Constitution, which he swore “to preserve and defend” five years ago, no longer works; that the only thing that counts is what he wants and what he says.
He has made himself the law, above any other law. He now fancies himself as the entire government, as the entire ruling Liberal Party, as the entire country. This is an undisguised tyranny. To be fair, although he has jailed his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the opposition senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. without trial, and removed Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona through political intimidation and bribery, and protected his corrupt and plundering allies and sycophants from the merest hint of an inquiry, his tyranny, although not benign, has not been murderous and bloody. But it has cost us our vaunted democracy. We are no longer a democracy.
Marcos declared martial law in 1972 because of a rampaging communist insurgency. This had long-term consequences on our young democracy. But whatever the excesses of martial law, Aquino has made Marcos look like a paragon of moral and political virtue now, after he had taken over the three coequal and coordinate branches of government without any constitutional raison d’etre, simply by corrupting Congress and intimidating the judiciary, just because he had wanted to. Both co-equal institutions are now trying to get out of Aquino’s stranglehold—the Supreme Court in the case of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which it had declared unconstitutional and void; the Congress, in the case of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law creating an exclusive autonomous Islamic enclave for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the southern Philippines, which it had refused to railroad at Malacañang’s behest. But the cumulative impact of Aquino’s authoritarian excesses on our institutions has distorted our self-image as a people and as a country.
In the original formulation of the US Declaration of Independence, whenever a government becomes destructive of its just ends, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” Under Aquino, this is what has happened to our country. He has single-handedly destroyed the Constitution by destroying all institutions. These must be restored, if we are to rebuild democracy.
But they cannot be restored or rebuilt by a simple regime change. They can be restored and rebuilt only through system change. Mere election, even if honest, which is a remote possibility, will only replace individuals; revolution alone can replace and rebuild institutions. Now a revolution can be either violent or non-violent; we do not need violence to change what we can through non-violence. “Radical” change—from the Latin word radix, which means roots—is not incompatible with non-violence. We must transform society from its roots, according to its roots, by means of revolution, without resorting to violence.
This idea of change is totally absent from the vocabulary of our present day politics. The self-declared presidential aspirants are talking only of their ambition to become president, and how many of the 1,200 unknown individuals arbitrarily chosen by the propaganda fraudsters to answer questions in a particular “survey” support their bid to become president. None of the aspirants are talking even of cosmetic change. The ship of state is sinking, like the Titanic, but their concern is not how to save it, but how to blend well with the furniture and be photographed smiling on the deck. Aquino’s absurd demand, to be succeeded by someone who will continue “his programs,” creates an awful absurdity, simply because he has no known programs for his successor to continue.
In the early stages of his “non-campaign” as a possible non-candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao used to be quoted as saying that, if elected president, the first thing he would do would be to organize a “revolutionary government.” This statement has remained unelaborated and uncommented upon until now. But it is not too late to examine it. And this is what I shall do here now.
It would seem absurd for anyone to run for president in a constitutionally mandated election, and then to proclaim a “revolutionary government” as soon as he is elected. A revolutionary government is the product of a revolution, not an election. One cannot take the oath to “preserve and defend the Constitution” after winning the election, and then in the next breath renounce the same Constitution and adopt a new one. In 1986, Cory Aquino lost the snap election to Marcos, but she refused to accept her defeat, and the EDSA uprising intervened to oust Marcos and put her in. I don’t believe she would ever have considered presiding over a revolutionary government, if she had won the election.
But there may be no incompatibility between holding an election, and inviting the voters in the same election, and through the same election, to participate in a non-violent revolution. How can this be done? Supposing that instead of fielding a particular presidential candidate with no meaningful program of government, the National Transformation Council, the Solidarity for Sovereignty and other allied groups were to nominate a presidential candidate who is not an individual but rather some kind of “party list” organization named “Revolutionary Council, shouldn’t that allow the nation to find out who are in favor of system change through an electoral revolution?
Through this, we could remake our democracy, and our entire society, without any violence. This sounds more ambitious and potentially more extensive and far-reaching than Marcos’s “revolution from the center.” And it seeks to derive its support from the broad masses of our people. I am challenging the political parties, the political scholars and practitioners, the academics and all interested parties to dissect and examine this idea as a possible major contribution to Philippine democracy in and far beyond the next elections.